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What’s Next for BuBi’s Shared Bikes?

Ábrahám Vass 2019.09.09.

The use of Budapest’s MOL BuBi shared bikes has been going downhill for years now. According to Index’s analysis, while there definitely is a boom in shared transport systems, and city cycling is getting more and more popular, it is BuBi’s outdated and cumbersome system to blame for the decline.

According to the data of kozlekedotomeg.hu, in total, a decrease of 40-50% can be observed since 2017. Meanwhile, its available docking stations, covered areas, and number of bikes have been extended (Bubi is currently operating 143 stations and 1846 bikes).

In a short response to the portal, the company blamed many factors for the tendency but revealed only one: the competition. Indeed, since BuBi went live in 2014, a number of other, similar shared-transport options have appeared: Donkey Republic’s bikes, segways, blinkey.city’s scooters, etc.

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Problematically, since BuBi’s implementation, Budapest hasn’t developed considerably in terms of biking infrastructure, e.g. biking lanes. As a result, many still deem it dangerous to ride in the capital’s traffic, let alone in the significant air pollution.

The portal, however, received a more detailed analysis from those BKK workers who were involved in BuBi’s implementation. They claimed that while similar companies have appeared, the competition is still slim. The problem is more-so that by now, BuBi has become cumbersome, uncomfortable and outdated.

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Firstly, their bikes are rather heavy, which makes them difficult to ride and navigate. Then the whole process of renting has its weak points: while according to the original plans, only initial registration was needed on the spot, but probably out of fear of theft, the BKK decided to require that all extensions are to be made in BKK’s Customer Service Center (something which for most youngsters is unimaginable nowadays). However, this fear has not been validated over the years, as vandalism is scarce, and thefts even scarcer.

Likewise, the deposit system is also outdated. BuBi requires casual users to pay 25,000 HUF (Eur 80) for a deposit, and the amount will be released upon the recuperation of the bike, something which is going out of practice nowadays.

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Index also notes that BuBi’s marketing is not well-targeted either, as most aren’t aware that it’s aimed towards shorter rides, as an extension to public transport, or to replace it at times of outages, for example.

Anyhow, the BKK has promised -although hasn’t disclosed any of them-  certain modifications in the near future.

featured image: MOL BuBi- Facebook